Jul 142009
Authors: Stacey K. Borage

The Great Sofa Round Up can’t promise that the bedbugs won’t bite. That’s why CSU’s annual community couch-swapping event is cancelled this year due to an increasing threat of bedbugs across the country.

While bedbugs have not been associated with the Great Sofa Round Up in the past, and there’s no confirmed outbreak of bedbugs yet, CSU and Fort Collins are still being prudent, city officials said.

“We’ve been fortunate in that we haven’t had a real issue (in Fort Collins),” said Neighborhood Administer Ginny Saywer. “I’m not sure whether it’s a matter of time or if we’re being proactive enough.”

Bedbugs are tiny insects with an average lifespan of about nine months that feed on the blood of humans and other warm blooded hosts and are typically active at night.

“This poses as a potential concern,” said Melissa Emerson, the CSU and Fort Collins community liaison, of this year’s possibility of bedbug infestation, particularly in upholstered furniture. “(Especially since) 80 percent of the sofas went to other households last year, we want to prevent bedbugs from spreading as much as possible.”

Even though Emerson does not have any plans for the upcoming years to cancel the program altogether, taking this year off will help event coordinators to reassess their priorities.

There’s talk of treatment to the furniture before it goes back out into the community or acquiring bedbug-sniffing dogs, but there’s no leeway in the university or city budget for any of it, Emerson said.

While the nocturnal pests pose a greater nuisance as of late, their presence isn’t serious.

“Increasingly it is becoming more of a real risk, although still small,” said Whitney Cranshaw, a CSU professor of entomology. “(Because of this), there is now a liability concern.”

But for Emerson, it goes beyond the legality of the issue.

“I would be concerned if (people) did get bedbugs (through Great Sofa Round Up) and had to bear the burden of cleaning their homes,” she said. “It’s expensive to do. These are the same people who are just looking for a free couch.”

Drawing from his experience as a nurse, parent Mike Holvick said while he thinks the Great Sofa Round Up is a practical recycling method, he understands why it was cancelled.

“Once the larva has set in, it’s really hard to get rid of those things,” Holvick said, after taking his son to Freshman Preview. “If you get them in the bedroom, you have to do things to the walls and carpeting. It’s pretty scary.”

Sophomore wildlife biology major Ashley Whipple said it should be on the shoulders of the people dropping off furniture to disinfect it first.

“(Couch owners) should think that it’s something that could happen,” she said. “Nobody wants bedbugs.”

Though people can’t swap their current couch for one with orange shag straight out of the 70s, they can still call and make a reservation with the city to pick up old furniture.

The furniture will go straight to the landfill where it will be compacted and then dumped.

The location of the pick-up must be inside city limits, and only one pick-up per household is allowed. Couch owners can call Neighborhood Services at (970) 224-6046 to schedule a time.

Staff writer Stacey K. Borage can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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